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Layabout

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Do nothing and everything will be done,   
that's what Mr. Lao Tzu said, who walked   
around talking 2,500 years ago and   

now his books practically grow on trees   
they're so popular and if he were   
alive today beautiful women would

rush up to him like waves lapping   
at the shores of his wisdom.   
That's the way it is, I guess: humbling.

But if I could just unclench my fists,   
empty out my eyes, turn my mind into   
a prayer flag for the wind to play with,

we could be brothers, him the older one   
who's seen and not done it all and me   
still unlearning, both of us slung low

in our hammocks, our hats tipped   
forwards, hands folded neatly,   
like bamboo huts, above our hearts.

Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2001)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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Layabout

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